"Don't ask, don't tell," no longer is the U.S. policy when it comes to gays in the military. But now, another "don't ask" policy may be on the horizon. An outfit called the Military Association of Atheists & Freethinkers wants to stop the military from asking recruits to identify their religion or if they have no religious preference.
The group itself explains why religious affiliation is asked:
There are at least two purposes for collecting demographics about religious preference in the military. The first is to have the preference printed on ID Tags to inform last rites and burial in combat situations. The second is to provide demographics information for use in providing chaplain and religious services. Knowing how many personnel desire a certain service, at the unit level and across the military, theoretically helps with funding of religious support activities, including facilities, chaplains, and chaplain materials.
These two options – religious rites and religious services – are entirely voluntary and at the discretion of the individual.
The religious preference is shown on "dog tags," the metal identification metals hung around the next. As a veteran, I think it's a good idea.
But here's what the group wants:
Because of the voluntary nature of religious preference, the importance of maintaining government neutrality toward religion, and in order to better track the diversity of belief within the military, MAAF recommends the following changes:
- Eliminate the standard question “what is your religion” in entrance processing.
- Change the default entry for religious preference from “No Religious Preference” to blank (no entry).
- Eliminate the “No Religious Preference” option (to facilitate change)
- Add an option for “Humanist”.
- Add an option for “Spiritual But Not Religious” aka SBNR, Spiritual or Spiritual BNR.
The American Legion is taking a pollon whether this practice should be banned.The MAAF is asking people to sign a White House petition to ban the practice. It doesn't seem to be getting much agreement